As chance would have it, Swedish folk-rock-branded trio Small Feet recorded their debut LP mostly in an 18th century cabin on one of the islands within Stockholm — not just an old cabin or an island, a cabin on an island. This practice is less remarkable in Sweden, where the government leases such facilities to artists expressly for this purpose, and it’s not a new story, collectively, for introspective indie folk singer/songwriter types (with beards), but the method seems to have a good success rate, and it’s produced winning results on From Far Enough Away Everything Sounds Like the Ocean.
At once immediate (like our ears are right there in the cabin) and hypnotic (pulling the listener on a dinghy of yearning across a canal of reverb), the album’s potency is led by the band’s singer and songwriter, Simon Stålhamre, who possesses a vocal delivery that will inevitably be compared by just about everyone to early Neil Young. “Palm Trees” renders a particularly passionate, Young-esque delivery with contemplative lyrics to match: “I want there to be palm trees/I want there to be rafting and weird fruit” and “The savages have won now/And righteous men must move into the woods/But the trees are long gone and/A mall is sitting right there where they stood.” These lyrics are impressively typical of the album, which is consistently robust in songcraft and performances. FFEAESLTO’s arrangements are generally spare but crepuscular via oft-employed devastating reverberation and vocal harmonies, such as on the trudging, despondent “And Repeat.”
Stålhamre’s vehement, penetrating vocal delivery and world-weary words are the stars of the show for certain, yet there are occasional instrumental moments, such as the surprising wailing guitar solo at the end of “Dagmar,” and the whole seasoned-sounding production is fully accomplished and affecting. “And singers have no songs now/You see them in their slippers and their robes/Their mumbling is a melody/Reflected off a surface long ago.”